It is hard to walk from the Sands Convention Center to the audio exhibits at the Venetian Towers without noticing this tempting array of candy apples. They sure looked better than the modest fruit distributed with the press room's box lunches.
The new Revel Performa 3 speaker line nestles snugly in the middle niche between the higher-end Ultima and more affordable Concerto. Ten models (shown here in prototype form) will include two monitors, three towers, two centers, surround, and two subs. Most will ship this summer except for one tower and one sub, due in fall. Enclosures now have curved sides. The floorstanders have rounded backs while the monitors have straight backs. New driver arrays and waveguides make things even more interesting. By the way, one of the most satisfying demos we've heard at CES so far was the Revel W780 in-wall speaker. For $600/each you get strong bass extension and a midrange that's kind to vocalists.
The new McIntosh MX121 pre-pro is, at $6000, half the price of its predecessor. And it's got AirPlay!—along with the updated HDMI connectivity and video versatility you'd expect. McIntosh also did a very impressive two-channel demo featuring its XR100 floorstanding speaker, a four-way design featuring a super-tweeter, two mid-tweeters, eight midranges, and four woofers for a mere $10,000/pair. Build quality is over the top: the tweeters have the kind of voice coils you'd expect to see mated with a 10-inch woofer. Surging strings were detailed in an almost three-dimensional sense. If you think McIntosh is just another pretty fascia, you should hear these speakers. Also shown was the Anniversary 275 stereo tube amp, so called because only 275 will be made.
You'd think a Lexicon multichannel amplifier would get hooked up almost exclusively to a Lexicon pre-pro. But we're told the DD-8 amp is actually being used by a lot of consumers as an upgrade for an a/v receiver which is then relegated to the role of pre-pro. A winner of awards at both CES and CEDIA, the amp musters 125 watts into eight channels and sells for $2500.
SRS Labs is well known for various sound-enhancement and surround-simulation algorithms found in many consumer-electronics products, such as TVs, AVRs, and soundbars. Among the new items being demonstrated at CES is PureSound, a suite of bass-enhancement and equalization algorithms intended to improve the quality of a TV's internal sound system.
The screen shot above shows the frequency response of a TV before (black) and after (green) applying PureSound, and the improvement in sound I heard was dramaticmuch more bass and a fuller, richer sound with less ringing than without the processing. The first application will give manufacturers the ability to improve their TVs' sound, but SRS envisions the day when consumers will be able to auto-tune the TV to their room, much like auto-setup systems in AVRs do now.
Also being demonstrated in the SRS suite at the Trump was StudioSound, which combines PureSound (described in a recent post) and NviroSound (discussed in yet another recent post). The demo consisted of the custom-created short The Escape played on a JVC TV's internal sound system as well as a Samsung soundbar. The spatial depth was not very pronounced on the JVC's internal system, but it was much more apparent and convincing from the soundbar.
I've long been impressed with Westinghouse flat panelssurprising, perhaps, but true nonetheless. Among the company's introductions at this CES is the 55-inch EW55, an LED-edgelit model with 120Hz operation and frame interpolation as well as a new brushed-metal black bezel. It should be available in the next couple of months for $1000.
Westinghouse's first foray into 3D, the 47-inch W473D uses conventional CCFL backlighting and passive-polarized glasses. It should be available in the second quarter of this year for $900. The prototype pictured here exhibited severe crosstalk/ghosting, so I'd say the company has some work to do before it's ready for prime timeand even then, it might not fly that well at big-box stores, where 3D is not in much demand.
The 46-inch, LED-edgelit UW46 from Westinghouse incorporates 120Hz operation but no frame interpolation and sports a super-slim, silver-edged bezel. It should be available this quarter for $700. The company says that 46-inchers were the best-selling large-size TVs in 2011, a trend I expect to continue at this price.
At 70 inches, the UW70 is the largest LCD TV Westinghouse has ever introduced. With LED edgelighting, 120Hz refresh rate, and frame interpolation, it should be available in the second quarter of this year forget this$2300 or less!
When have you last seen a Home Theater in a Box that uses vacuum tubes in its AV receiver section? Samsung has one in its 6730W home theater system&$151;flat panel available separately! It sounded warmer and more pleasant than it had any right to in an open space, though of course tubes alone are no panacea. No price available as yet, but it's the first HTiB I've found at least interesting. The tubes are in the receiver's input stages; the output is solid state. Samsung is also offering some one-piece, two-channel iPod (and Android) docs with vacuum tube inputs.